Beware online charlatans peddling snake oil

It is perhaps still not obvious to all that the Internet is a cesspool of information as much as it is a treasure trove of disinformation (Dr Google is a liar; Dec 18).

Many patients mistake spiels and thinly veiled advertisements for bona fide information, spuriously spun gobbledegook for genuine research and convoluted conspiracy theories for alternative facts - such is the power of a combination of open source disinformation and all-believing naive minds.

Constantly bombarded by pseudo purveyors of health, the misinformed buy into expensive and worthless health supplements and machinery that promise to be elixirs of life, meanwhile spurning the basic tenets of healthy living that would naturally increase their longevity without much financial cost. It is enticing to think health comes expediently out of a bottle and to gleefully forsake the discipline that proven regimes of dieting and exercising demand.

That our children, through compulsory inoculations (at least in Singapore), no more succumb to childhood diseases, which were the scourge of the past, is lost on vaccine naysayers.

That our longevity has almost doubled between the last century and this because of better nutrition and sanitary conditions, along with better recognition and treatment of diseases by the medical fraternity, is lost on those who eschew conventional therapy in favour of charlatans peddling their snake oil.

But history is replete with glib conmen and their victims who chose to be defrauded.

It is enticing to think health comes expediently out of a bottle and to gleefully forsake the discipline that proven regimes of dieting and exercising demand.

This era is no different from any other, even with the provision of better education which seems to have made us more discriminating, just not wisely.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 20, 2018, with the headline 'Beware online charlatans peddling snake oil'. Print Edition | Subscribe